How to Make the Most Out of Your Acting Lines

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As an actor, an essential part of your process will be to memorize your acting lines. Memorizing anything can be tough let alone something you not only have to remember but act out as well. Some people are blessed with the ability to photographically recall their acting line. Others aren’t so lucky and really have to work through the process. Regardless of how easy or difficult it is for you to remember your acting lines, there are still some tips you can use to get the most out of them.

This article will take you through some methods that will help get those lines stuck in your brain. Many of these tips will also help you get the most out of your acting lines to boost your performance.

acting lines discussion

10 Tips to Make Sure You Impress with Your Acting Lines

1. Mark Your Beats

A beat in a script is a chunk of your acting lines that forms a complete thought. Use a pen to mark off each beat in the script. This gives you a sort of reminder that the focus or feeling have changed. There is a new idea to focus on. It will help you navigate the story and aid you in being able to tell it sequentially.

You may even want to highlight your part in the script so that you can jump to sections you want to work on without having to search through it and waste time.

2. Script Doodling

One thing some actors do to get the most out of their acting lines is to circle the verbs in each sentence. This creates a simple reference as to what each sentence is adding to the action of the scene. Using that action word can help you bring the line to life if you use it for emphasis.

Another item you can scribble into the margins of your script are things you can use for self direction. As you read through your acting lines, jot down whether you should slow down or speed up your speech, speak louder or softer, any added emotion you want to incorporate. These little hints can help you keep on track. Feel free to jot any information you feel would be helpful for you to quickly reference while you learn your acting lines.

3. Read Your Script

It usually is not enough to just memorize your own lines. If you are interacting with another actor in a scene, you will need to know your cues as well, which means learning pieces of their lines too. To get the most out of your acting lines you really need to read through the entire script, probably more than once. Doing so will give you a clear understanding of the plot. It will also help you derive your character’s motivation for their actions.

You will also learn levels of relationships between characters and other character motivation. All of these little things will give you the feel of the story and then you will be able to better portray your scenes.

4. Memorization

Often the most daunting task when learning your acting lines, memorization does not have to throw you for a loop. Start small initially. Figure out your time frame and commit to learning a small portion at a time. At first, speak each line slowly and let it sink in. Do not try to add feeling or figure out how you are going to say it when you perform. Just try to read them as only words.

Next, you may want to write the lines out by hand. I know that sounds like a lot of work. However, the more senses you get involved in the process, the easier it will be to remember. Read aloud – this action uses your sense of hearing, speech, and is visual. Writing your lines includes your hands and also reinforces them visually. Repeat them out loud while you are writing and you are getting your entire being in on the memorization.

actors on stage

5. Learn Your New Persona

Learn everything about your character. What drives them? How do they feel about other characters? Where they live? Something that has happened? Where are they from? Learn the setting they are placed in so that you know how they would react to situations.

Getting to know intimate details about your character will help you portray them more effectively, believably, and accurately. Put yourself in a situation and think about how your character would resolve the issue. Put your character in a specific environment and think of how your character would react within it.

6. Practice Makes Perfect

Nothing replaces good old practice. Get comfortable with your acting lines and then grab yourself an audience as soon as you can. Realize you are still in the learning phase and do not let forgetting a line or delivering it incorrectly or ineffectively discourage you. More than likely your audience will be a few friends or family and they will not heckle any mistakes.

Ask them for feedback and use it to help tweak the delivery of your acting lines. Even if you cannot get critical feedback from them, which is sometimes the case with individuals who love you, it is still great practice. Do not forget- you are a work in progress and mistakes are inevitable. Use this time to correct them, jot them into your script so you know areas that need extra attention. Practice often.

7. Know the Story

As you break the script into learnable sections, remember to reflect on what is happening. You are acting out a story. Thus, it is very important to know what is happening within it. Make sure you understand what is happening and what each section of your script means. Look up unfamiliar words that may confuse your understanding.

The more you understand what is occurring, the more likely you will remember your lines. Then, you are able to tell the story. You will know how one section links to the next one and why the story is going in the direction it is going. This will make the story more cohesive and in turn, easier to remember.

8. Do Stuff

As you learn your acting lines it is helpful to begin to do things while you recite them. Get up and do the dishes, walk around, dust some shelves. More than likely you will be doing more than sitting at a desk as you perform. This step will get you used to recalling your lines while your body is in motion.

It will also help ingrain your acting lines deeper. If you find yourself forgetting, it is okay. This is just a step in the process towards being successful.

9. Distractions, What Distractions?

The theater will not be silent when you perform. People will sneeze, babies will fuss, and other people will excuse themselves to the restroom. You cannot let these things distract you. Sounds and visual distractions abound even on the set. Make yourself immune to them by exposing yourself to distractions while you learn your lines. Play music or flip on the television while you recite your lines aloud.

Go to a public place and go through your lines in your head or under your breath. Learn to block out all of the distractions whether visual or audio. If you can learn to overcome that level of distractions, you won’t miss a beat during your performance and your focus will not waiver.

10. Own the Process

It is very important that you build confidence in the process. Remember you are there to give something not take. You are providing a service in the performing of the story. Give that to the audience. Tell the story and push the focus from you to accomplishing that service. Instead of thinking this is your opportunity to show off, think of it as an opportunity to deliver a message to the audience from the writer to the best of your ability. These things will also help you keep from overdoing it and you will look more genuine.

You do not however have to forget all about you. You got the part. Then, you did the work. Go ahead and shine. Own it. Be proud and confident up on stage or on set. It is not about being judged or criticized anymore. Own the space and make it yours. Tell the story to the audience as if you have lived it and you are giving them the gift of experiencing it through your eyes.

audience before theater play
Tip: Remember that your audience is watching you at all times – and turn this in your favor!

Rising the Curtains

Acting is a process. There are steps you can take that will help you understand your character, the plot, and memorize your acting lines. Taking the time to work your way through this process will help you get the most out of your lines. It will help you bond with your character and understand their motivation. Knowing those intimate details will help you portray them more accurately. Also, they make your performance more memorable and believable.

What other tips do you have that may help someone get more from their lines? Leave any helpful hints below.

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